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One of the more useless aspects of being socialized female was being brought up to believe that it was desirable for everyone to like me! And it was my job to convince them!

Fortunately, lots of people not just me have had this problem.

Now, social capital can be a useful piece of leverage, though it is a really nefarious thing you get by being funny, or conventionally good-looking, or excessively accommodating. Or acting like you don’t care at all.

Also, in the world of mental health professionals, it’s not super common to hear therapists or psychologists, when speaking to their colleagues, say that they LIKE their client. Maybe because of boundaries, maybe because of professionalism and psychodynamic theory, maybe because who you like and don’t like is extremely subjective. However, it is totally fair game to say that someone is “likable.” “Likable” means somebody has social skills, or some endearing quality, (which includes being just the right amount of rude) and just a tip-if a therapist is describing somebody as “likable” they are far more inclined to make a sound effort. Most people will try harder when they like you.

It is fair to say that there are a number of things that are useful about having people like you!

And then it turns out, in spite of all your efforts, somebody might not like you. Maybe they hate the smell of your rosemary mint soap. They have a vendetta against all faux-hawks. They have a lot of judgements about the way you use Facebook. Who knows why. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s them, probably it doesn’t matter.

One point of distinction: it can be a really useful thing to not dislike somebody innately, but really find aspects of their behavior aggravating. Drawing boundaries of the sort that build a relationship (ie, letting people know gently/clearly what does and doesn’t work for you) can be a fantastic thing to practice. Conversely: you do not owe anybody your time or affection or excuses. And they do not owe you that, though it is reasonable to expect people to be respectful of you, and keep their microaggressions to themselves.

But not everybody likes you! Or maybe they just don’t like you in the way you want them to like you, or you like each other but have different expectations or schedules.

It can be a lonely place to live, for sure, when it feels like a few key players in the social arena do not like you.

Sometimes there are regional or subcultural aspects to it. I sometimes think that in Seattle folks have to have known you for at least 18 months before they feel comfortable inviting you to coffee, unless it is summertime, or you both just moved to the city, or they are interested in having sex with you. None of those are bad reasons, though in the past I have gotten annoyed with people who only return my texts because they are hoping to see me naked.

Also: sometimes it’s not because people don’t like you! It’s because they’re busy! Or they have experienced a series of unfortunate events that renders them incapable of getting back to you! Or they just really prefer to hang out with their cat and watch True Blood. Either way, not about you!

But either way: getting people to like you is not your job. It is your job to handle your business and lead your life in such a way that you can live with the consequences. Also it’s good if you pull your weight with regard to social justice issues, but really if you can just get it together to handle your business and don’t be a jerk to people, you’re doing great.

Here’s a piece of advice, that applies across the board: People Who Like You Will Act Like They Like You. And it will not require you to interpret their behavior. And you are likable. So don’t take any shit.

Credit where credit is due:

I learned a lot of my stuff, included the catchphrase People Who Like You Will Act Like They Like You from: here

And for all you nerds that want some extra credit:

Five Geek Social Fallacies

The Geek Social Fallacies of Sex


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July 3, 2012 · 4:29 am